Monday, March 12, 2018

Fig Newtons

I discovered this by accident a few years ago. My dad used to like Nabisco fig Newtons. My parents always had these cookies around, and I wish Dad was alive so I could give these to him and he could taste how much better these homemade versions are because they would have blown his mind. The fig flavor is sharper, brighter and much more intense while the dough portion is made slightly less proportionally. You don't get all that dry crumbly cooking filling your mouth with fig flavor barely coming through. They're also a lot more moist.

I used ordinary figs. They'd be even better with great figs. And really good dates would work very well too. Now that I know about those. I used ordinary figs combined with ordinary dates. Since then I've had excellent figs and outstanding dates. That's what got me thinking about this again. I mentioned all this to a woman working at Trader Joe's and she asked me if I tried their brand. She ran off and came right back and opened a package of Trader Joe's fig Newtons and gave me one. It's very good, much better than Nabisco, but still a bit too much dough for my preference. Then the fig taste hit like a blast, and that taste stayed in my mouth for the next half hour or so. It's an obnoxiously enduring flavor sensation bomb and I could see why they make the dough so thick. Then I could hear the woman throughout the store offering fig Newtons to customers.

Figs are cut into small pieces, that makes a mess of your knife, and the pieces dropped into a pot and simmered with water to form a thick fig-date sludge. This mixture can be spread on anything, toast, crackers, apple slices and the like. It lasts forever in the refrigerator. And it's better than anything you can buy.

And I mean it.

The dough is similar to shortbread, except baked softer.

1.5 Cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (a nearly insignificant amount)

1 stick butter (1/4 Lb. that's 1/2 cup, rather a lot for so little flour)
1/3 cup sugar

Cream the sugar and butter.

1 egg
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons orange juice. Seems like the zest would be very good too.

The high butter to flour ratio is what makes this dough short.

figs ↑
dates ↓

Those two things ↑ simmered in water until they blend to desired viscosity.

The dough is very buttery.
The rectangle is cut in half, each half scored in half

Baked gently. 

Oh man, these things are good. A guy could get fat eating these. They must be given away. And when you do, you'll be hailed as master baker. I'm pretty sure that's what they were saying. 


Dust Bunny Queen said...

Oh WOW! Thanks for posting this. That sound like a perfect dough. I used to have a good recipe for home made Fig Bars/Newtons but lost it when our pump house had a flood. My husband had a craving for Fig Newtons and we bought some from the store. What a disappointment.

I also used to make a filling with dried apricots,honey,lemon juice and finely chopped walnuts. Let me look into the back of my brain and see if any of those neurons are still alive, into the "mental rolodex", and see if I can recall the proportions for those fillings. I bet if we added a bit of good brandy to the apricots we could come up with an Adult Newton :-) I also seem to recall that the dough in my waterlogged recipe had about a tbsp., or so, of wheat germ added to the dough. Maybe that was the hippie dippie version of the recipe.

Until then: I will try Trader Joes next time we go!

edutcher said...

Roll your own Fig Newtons.

And, oopsy, those aren't Adult Newtons. Those are "Hey, sweetie, have a fig newton (or 2 or 10) and let's get a little silly" Newtons.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

I've always liked fig newtons. Anything with fig. For store bought, i think Fig Newmans are better. I love fresh figs and dried figs--Mission and calimyrna and other more exotic varieties. Something about the natural sweetness and the crunch of the delicate seeds. Best fresh figs I've ever tasted were in Napa.

Thanks for the recipe, Chip.

rhhardin said...

The curious things about figs is that the polinating fig wasp goes into the flower but does not come out.

chickelit said...

Tira più un pelo di fica che un carro di buoi ~ Italian proverb

"Fica" (fig) is a euphemism meaning "pussy" in that saying.